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Messages - Electrickey

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If wanting the original tone and response of a Wurli the original amp is key.

I've found that re-flowing solder joints on the original amp in my 200A got rid of all the intermittent noise storms and the amp sounds fine with all original parts.

Many times some get overly concerned about drifting tolerances without considering that although  fixing the amp with new parts may look good on a tolerance sheet, what does it do for the tone?

It's like getting a face lift. You won't sound or look like you anymore.

The tone came from years of aging of the parts. Unless the amp does not work or is in danger of being a fire hazard, would I consider on changing parts without thinking. You won't find the original issue parts in new condition. You will however get reproductions which again will not react like the original.

Most of the character of a vintage electrical musical instrument is that it has old parts and f the parts are original, whatever parts the factory chose in the design, it was serendipitous that the sum of those parts ended up presenting the tone.

The amp may be a designer's nightmare from an electronic engineer's POV but then we're dealing with tone not how well the amp was made.

The 200 has more warmth. The 200A is the more requested for use for back line pro stage.

As mentioned if you can try either model and see which captures your imagination.

Try and find  a Wurli that needs little work vs one that is a beater. These days with supply chain break downs and shipping you'll want to have any fix-er-upper projects behind you otherwise you'll end up doing less recording and more fixing and waiting for parts.

The digital clones pretty much have the sound down if you're just looking for representation of the sound in a mix, but the original has its analog charm and like playing guitar somewhat each player gets their own response out of the instrument that a digital sample won't.

My fave old Wurli recording is Joni Mitchell's Woodstock.

Other Keyboards & Software Synths / RIP JERRY WELCH ORGAN SERVICE COMPANY
« on: October 29, 2020, 01:26:24 PM »
Jerry Welch owner of Organ Service Company in Chicago, a source of knowledge and Hammond organ parts has passed at the age of 79.

Jerry took over some of the inventory when the Hammond Chicago factory closed.


The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Clavinet on top of wurly makes huge buzz
« on: November 02, 2019, 08:25:58 PM »
I would try shielding the Clav and not change parts in the Wurli to retain its tone.

What year is your Clav? Is it a D6?

By around 1977, Hohner released a model that was shielded to address the noise problem.

So let's say the Clav is the issue not the Wurli.

But there are work arounds by shielding the Clav's amp.

This does not involve using "hiss" caps which ruin the classic Clav tone.

A copper box is made and connected to ground.

Shield the electronics or get a keyboard stand to lift the Clav further away from the Wurli.

May not be ideal but back when these were made no one thought about players stacking them one on top of the other.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: "Flower head" screws replacement
« on: July 01, 2019, 09:59:09 AM »
As an aside, when I dismounted the speakers in my 200A to check them for wear and vacuuming the cones of decades of dust, when installing them, I used some of that black mastic "rope" that some speaker suppliers have.

Looks like black licorice rope and lay this on the edge  on the gaskets to seal up the space between the speaker and the lid.

Keeps the sound focused out of the lid grills and helps a little in the dust and moisture department.

Don't use too much so you don't warp the frames.

(Only works on the 200A)

Note: if you plan to shop-vac your speakers you might want to avail of those tiny vacuum accessories that reduce a basic nozzle size down to a strong whisper of pull.

You don't want to have to hunt for your missing cones after you suck them off the frames with your mega horsepower vac. ???

The 200's had a lot of features that changed after the first run, approximately Sept 1968-Sept 1969.  Off the top of my head, and much of it brought to my attention by Cinnanon:

  • The "fake stereo" paired speakers
  • The "hairpin" slotted legs
  • Lettering _under_ the knobs on the faceplates
  • A different, bigger jewel bezel for the on/off light
  • Different grid pattern over the speakers (I think it was just the first year....?)

They also had not-great amps, a fuse on the knob/pot housing, and dangerous AC incoming wiring that should always be fixed.

I think the red and forest green colors were more widely available in that first run, too.

That said, I personally prefer the sound of the 200 over the 200A.

The thing about amps is the technical on one side and then the ear on the other.

Over time we will notice many errors in design with anything humans make.

But in those errors lies some revealing qualities. :)

It is those qualities we might want over the spiffy-ness of the design.

How many decades did it last?

Compared to many things made today, that would be a lifetime.  :)

The plate on my 200A is still on there with no signs of backing off anywhere. :D

The original nameplates look to have used an adhesive tape

It would be worth knowing what they used then and what would be a modern version of that.

With the reissue plates, what is recommended to adhere these?

I would test an inconspicuous spot on the Wurli's vinyl to see if the cement will melt the finish before committing to a blitzkrieg glue-fest.

Today's cements may have things in it that does not agree with the vintage vinyl.

Keep in mind unless one knows the exact brand and batch mix used at the Wurli factory during the assembly days, even if you get the same brand and type, the formula may have changed since the 70's.

Vegetable oil might be safer to use to remove old goop.

Excellent, Tim, and thank you for providing this information!

Bass side

Treble side

Couldn't figure out how to post larger photos of Tim's speakers.

Thanks for the information Tim. :)

Yep normal 200 series amp, no separate preamp like the 200a. The speaker cones on the bass seemed to have ridges where the treble didn’t. Both were original cones.

Would be nice to see photos of these for documentation purposes.

To see EIA codes.

Does anyone know who made these cones for Wurlitzer over the years?

I had a 200 from '68 in for servicing a while back and it had the 2 original speakers but each had a different model code. Rather than it being "stereo" each speaker was designed to accentuate the sounds of the treble and the bass.

Can't remember much about the wiring to them though.


Was the amp the normal 60's era mono 200 amp and preamp?

I don't think that is true about the stereo effect, but then again, maybe it was something they tried in 1968 only.  Anyone can add a cap to filter out some bass from the right speaker, but I don't think I would do that. An external stereo effect pedal would be better.

I was wondering about the use of the word "stereo" but I took it to mean there was a different sound from "two speakers" and not really a true stereo effect. That would mean there would need to be 2 amp channels going, to get stereo, not a single-channel mono.

There was no mention of the piano having a special amp for 1968.

For Wurlitzer to go the length of having different speakers designed and made to achieve the bass/treble side effect is interesting. That would mean reinstalling such speakers, one would need to have this information or install the cones in backwards.

Wurli amp designers: now you have some ideas for an upgrade amp/speaker unit.

Stereo vibrato? Reverb? Delay? Chorus? Distortion? Sky's the limit.

As far as experimenting, anyone is free to do that, adding blocker caps. It would take some time and effort. YMMV.

will it change the sound that much?

Depends on how critical one is on how the piano will sound with other than original speakers. The size of a speaker is not the determining factor by itself. It will be a number of factors, the way the speaker was made, the materials used in assembly.

Case in point, the Yamaha NS10 studio monitors that started out as cheap bookshelf speakers, use a special white cone material that is not made anymore, which is why original NS10 speaker (raw frames) go for a lot of money because the sound is not the same and there are those who can tell.

Even speakers of the same make and model, manufacturer sound slightly different from themselves.

Not sure if this is accurate but according to a "docwurly" site history:

On the 1968 issues of the 200:

"The speaker at the bass end accents the bass notes and the one at the treble end stresses the highs, to give a stereo effect." This seems to have been achieved through cone design."

Again, being a custodian of a prized vintage instrument comes with some responsibilities.

If it were mine I would keep it as original as possible.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Noise in the amplifier.
« on: June 25, 2019, 09:55:16 AM »
where do you get that brass pad solder cleaner?

Amazon sells them if you like to use them.

When it gets full you just open the bottom cap and there will be the balls and bits of solder.

Just jab the tip of your solder pencil into the ball several times.

It leaves the tip thinly tinned and ready for use. Works like a charm.

Tip: the balls are smaller than the container so use two to fill the cup properly to make it easier to jab the solder tip in. You can also use stainless steel wool balls to help fill the cup using the brass balls as the cleaner pad and the SS balls for support.

Speakers aren't going to fry your amp

Thank you!

But if you don't use the proper impedance your amp is looking for, you won't get the same volume response out of your piano's amp if the impedance is different from the original.

The original impedance seen by the 200A amp is 8 ohms, with two 16 ohm speakers wired in parallel.

Also keep in mind that speakers are part of the character of the piano.

• If you don't use the originals or replacements that have been designed like/close to the originals, you won't get the classic sound and any aftermarket speaker may have frequency responses that don't bring out the proper sound of the piano.

Then again that may not matter to you.

With any speaker/ speaker replacement, it's a gamble as to how any one speaker will react in any instrument.

Be prepared for this gamble on the tone.

What are your priorities?

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: "Flower head" screws replacement
« on: June 16, 2019, 03:47:18 AM »
My tech just screwed up those even if I warned him about this.

Owning a vintage instrument needs a tech that is sensitive to that whole game.

• Don't assume that the next guy (tech) is going to be on the same page with you as far as how rare the instrument is he's working on unless he happens to repair that particular instrument as part of his daily business.

You have to be on guard that at any moment, someone will do something wrong to the instrument. And be ready FOR THE PITFALLS OF THE TYPICAL MISTAKES, just anyone would recreate simply because they have no idea what the instrument is or how hard and expensive it is to get parts.

it's just the nature of the beast when importing goods.


If authenticity is your goal, better get them now before things get worse for shipping.

Insurance on ships is going to go up, 400% (courtesy of what's been happening lately), so that's going to mean shipping costs are going to go up.

As has been suggested, find some large flat head screws at your hardware store, preferably black if your Wurli is basic black or paint the ones that you find.

Flathead carriage bolts would look similar from 50 feet. :P

But using a carriage bolt would mean there is the square nut shape under the head which is typical of a carriage bolt because it does not have driver slots. YMMV and short of grinding off the edges to remove the corners of the built-in nut, you may have to allow the nut to embed itself into the vinyl of your piano.

These are not bad for the hex slot.

If you're going to restore a vintage, not made anymore instrument and you're not living in the country that made it, then be prepared to take on a rich-man's hobby.

3% import taxes + 21% VAT + customs agent payment,

Where is as is.

Owning a vintage musical instrument comes at a price.

Be glad you don't live on the moon...

What happened to the original speakers in your piano?

Find what you can in your area that is close and make or have someone make a thin sturdy adapter out of wood, metal or plastic.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Noise in the amplifier.
« on: June 15, 2019, 06:42:26 AM »
Hi from Spain.
Thanks for your answer!
  My soldering iron and my welding skills are basic so I will take the amplifier to a technician to check the welds.
I've worked a lot on this piano and I have to try to make the noise disappear, it's the most important thing!
I will also check the ground points.
Thanks for everything.

You may want to impress upon your technician that you would like each solder joint reflowed. It would be best that you do not assume the technician will think to do this. It will take some time to do each and every weld point.

What we are explaining to you is a repair procedure that we've discovered as owners/service people on these instruments and may not be part of your technician's habits.

If your technician understands the complete reflow procedure we've described on this instrument, then no problem.

Before you leave your instrument at the technician's shop, you would want to know that they have repaired a Wurlitzer electric piano before.

If not, try and find a technician, or another musician-hobbyist like yourself with more experience with a solder station and on complex circuit boards.

• It is important that when reflowing each weld, that the solder does not connect outside of each weld's circuit, not touching other welds, that should remain separate from the other and that the solder iron does not burn the board or overheat the components. This is why a proper solder station unit is needed to quickly apply the right amount of heat in the quickest amount of time and that one's solder skills are good enough to do this.

• The 200A's circuit boards are now 50 years. They may need a better modern solder station.

I used one of these on my 200A's amp and preamp and purchased it just for reflowing the Wurli's electronics. It measures the amount of heat needed at the weld and applies just enough heat to melt and flow the solder.

This is not the type of station using a manual heat control knob or button.

The Jovy iSolder 40 is a copy (somewhat) of the Metcal smart solder, but made in China. 

Metcal makes many models and they started in Silicon Valley making equipment for the military. They are pricey and come from different parts of the globe.

See video below for the Metcal.

Suffice it to say my Jovy lasted just a little longer (about 2 years) after reflowing the welds on the 200A. Something happened within the pencil itself and getting a repair response from Jovy was a dead-end. The way the base unit is made, it can't be opened as it is sealed and the pencil is hard-wired to the base, unlike others that are dis-connectable.

It served its purpose at $100.

Video for the iSolder 40

No solder kit is complete without one of these:

Forget that wet sponge. This brass wool pad is the way to go to clean tips without using water and a plastic sponge.
There are other versions of this same system using the brass wool ball.

I have inspected solder joints.

As has been mentioned a number of times in other threads, reflowing ALL the solder joints is key to finding static and thunderstorms even before replacing parts.

How sure are you that replacing the resistors was actually the problem and not that the solder joint was just reflowed in the process?

Inspecting joints does not always present the problem. The joint can be defective underneath the solder where the part connects to the board and can't be seen.

Figure a 50 year old electronic instrument, things can get iffy from age and oxidation of connections.

Hence doing a complete reflow job on both the amp and preamp will at least narrow things down.

I did this with my 200A, it would sit on for an hour and then all of a sudden cough and wheeze until I did the total reflow job. Has not made a peep since.

I did use good solder though and a heat adjustable computer controlled soldering station reflowing every joint.

I hesitated assuming the parts were at fault off the bat losing tolerance as I didn't want to change the tone of the piano, preferring to keep everything as original factory parts as possible.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Old 200A amplifiers
« on: June 13, 2019, 07:56:14 AM »
Rather than assuming changing the amp because others are doing it, ask yourself what you want out of your vintage Wurlitzer?

Do you want the classic sound heard on countless albums?

If so, then hang on to your amp.

The reason you won't see the original amps up for sale is because not every one wants to change the character of the original just to gain a few cents of a db in hum control.

There are people who "upgrade" just for the sake of upgrading. But is changing the character of an instrument an upgrade?

In the end, changing the original parts of a vintage instrument devalues it. That's something else to consider.

Ever hear the Wurli/vocal version song Woodstock by Joni Mitchell?

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: shipping crate design?
« on: June 13, 2019, 07:48:07 AM »
Might it not be more practical to invest in a flight case that you can use and resell than investing in a crate that needs to be torn down and rebuilt, adding to the "iffy-ness" of the structural integrity of the enclosure holding the piano?

A flight case is easier to grab, and will lessen the tendency to throw the package around for it's human-friendly box, corners and edges and HANDLES.

In fact you could rebox the flight case with cardboard if you don't want to advertise.
But insurance for over the replacement cost will be your friend.

Or, join uShip and have someone hand deliver your prized piano to the tech.

Many other ways to go on this.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Noise in the amplifier.
« on: June 13, 2019, 07:35:59 AM »
This has come up before.

I would try getting a good heat adjustable solder station and reflow the solder spots on the amp and preamp if you have basic soldering skills and see if that fixes the noise problem before assuming there's something wrong with the components. Unless it's apparent that there are  bad parts, sometimes reheating the solder holding the components to the circuit boards will reconnect anything that has become intermittent over the decades.

I did this to my 200A and no more thunderstorms, or static.

Changing components in a vintage amp, note that the tone will change as well.
Just because a part has drifted from spec, use your ears. If the piano sounds good then why change the components off the bat.

Isn't the sound more important than if the caps and resistors are at tolerance.

Of course if there is any danger the parts will burn and cause a fire, then by all means change it.

But a vintage sound is usually the vintage parts having settled to a particular state that gives the instrument the desired character.

Make sure the ground lugs around the inside of the piano are clean and tight.

If your solder skills are not up to it, have someone who is good at it do the work. You don't want to mess anything up turning your vintage Wurli into a guinea pig experiment.

Respect the instrument.

If it's vintage and with power company irregularities and lightning strikes more common I would unplug these not made anymore instruments just to keep lightning from making a toaster out of it.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Harp ringing in 200As
« on: February 24, 2019, 06:30:47 PM »
Just a thought, try to adjust the left screw that holds the metal music rack and see if the metallic overtone disappears. If it's the same problem I have, I find just turning the screw to tighten the lid onto the chassis makes the errant sound go away. Check if your rubber grommets on those screws are full and pliable.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Wurlitzer 200A volume issue
« on: February 12, 2019, 04:08:10 PM »

keep your fingers off the high voltage while working inside the Wurly.

How does one bleed the stored voltage in a Wurli?

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: Price of 200A When New?
« on: January 17, 2019, 04:37:17 PM »
I bought my 200A in 2013 for $600. Bostonian moving to Las Vegas did not want to bring it with.

Had a flight case made for it.

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano / Re: First wurli, first post, first problem
« on: January 17, 2019, 02:36:18 AM »
I couldn't view any of the dropbox clips. They all 404'd.

Anyway, interesting thread and lots of ifs ands or buts technical mullings.

I decided to let a piano technician fiddle with the Wurli. Too many geometry specs for me to try and get right without years of piano experience.

When one issue gets fixed, another crops up. Did not want to deal with that and end up more problems than before.

As long as the middle of the keyboard gets that Wurli tone, without being expected to play like a Bosendorfer, I'm content.

Hope you come back with some takeaways for us landlubbers who did not sail the 7 seas in a sail boat.  :)

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